The recent negative push over the spate of on-track penalties in the last two grands prix has prompted some responses in the press and F1 and the FIA try to get out in front of the negative narrative that has now spilled over into the long-complacent press.
It all started with the Canadian Grand Prix’s penalty for re-entering the track in an unsafe manner and as I pointed out here, I think the penalties outrage is really just a byproduct of a system that is broken and the frustration the fans are feeling over the 6-year Mercedes domination with no end in sight. That, coupled with the recent noise in the press about how the F1 bosses are capitulating over the 2021 regulation set due to Mercedes pressure, is really getting F1 fans bent out of shape over the entire debacle.
Now the FIA have suggested they’d be open to changing the rejoining rule for 2020:
“My view is we have got a rule book there, and the rule book is the one we have got for the entire 2019 season.
“I don’t think it would be wise in any sport to change anything mid year.
“But is it something that you can look at, like with any rule book? Absolutely.
“I think we are always constantly evolving with everything.”
The FIA has to have unanimous consent from all teams in order to make changes for 2020 so the idea of making changes in 2019 is pretty much off the table. That’s part of the problem, F1 keeps kicking the can down the road and they aren’t changing the friction points to bad racing quick enough. The series is too litigious and too burdened with politics, process and agendas.
There was a day when the FIA made regulation clarifications on the trot (blown diffusers, mass-dampers, flexi-floors) and I would be hard pressed to think fans would not respond well to a stewarding clarification of the regulation instead of a letter-of-the-law interpretation. Not a change of the regulation but to coach stewards on when to apply the rule and when it applies.
The problem is, the race stewards have become traffic cops instead of referees (Martin Brundle’s analogy, not mine) and as such, they are way too willing to hand out penalties for any infraction.
The FIA has a chore ahead of itself as it is weighed down by process and procedure.
Masi added: “I think if all the teams agree with it, it is no different to any other set of regulations.
“But there is also the ISC that has provisions in it that are also used from a code of driving conduct side.
“That has its own process which isn’t just F1 specific, it is for the entire sport.
“But it is something that we will look at collectively and jointly.”
This is why I have advocated for years that the FIA should have a director of F1 and a separate regulatory framework in which to move within. Max Mosley was a master of regulatory interpretation and re-interpretation. Just ask Ron Dennis.
Then we have F1 itself who has heard Lewis Hamilton’s call for change and his offer to help the process of change by attending future meetings. This led Ross Brawn to say:
“I’m happy Lewis has confirmed his willingness to make his own contribution in the coming months, and we can’t wait to work with him, particularly in each of the three meetings now scheduled.
“We know well that Formula 1 needs to make an important change in direction if it wants to maintain its position as one of the most followed sporting spectacles in the world.
“All of the key stakeholders – ourselves, the FIA and the teams – agree on the objectives and there is broad agreement on the major principles, such as the introduction of the budget cap and a fairer distribution of the revenue, while on the technical aspects we, and the FIA, have worked together with engineers from all the teams.
“It will be great to have an input directly from the drivers.”
Now I like Lewis a lot but I would be hard pressed to think F1 wouldn’t benefit from the voices of several drivers both veteran and new. What I found interesting is Brawn’s point about Mercedes domination, which he was instrumental in bringing about as the team boss:
“If Mercedes keeps up this pace it could seal the Constructors’ Championship by Monza, with a third of the season still left!” said Brawn.
“Let’s be clear: Lewis, Valtteri and Mercedes are not to blame for a season verging on perfection, and it should be obvious that the rule changes we want to introduce are not directed against a team that is rewriting the record books.
“But we must all understand that the sport we love needs more competition, so that other teams can also aspire to podium finishes and it is not just a few powerful teams that dominate.”
He’s right of course but they’ve had two season to get this solved and they haven’t which goes to show just how difficult it is to turn this massive ship turned around in the narrow channel in which it sails.